Using Masking Tape?


First off, that was a joke reference to a video game.

As for the hazards of lasering stuff, there are a few different things to worry about. One is damaging the machine, and another is damaging you. PVC vinyl is problematic because it’s bad for you and the machine. It has chlorine in it, and burning it produces a number of compounds you don’t want around. Hydrochloric acid can quickly corrode nearby metal, as seen in this picture of a laser damaged by cutting vinyl:

You also get stuff like benzene and toluene, which are health hazards. If you have a filter, the fine print almost certainly says it’s not rated to remove that stuff. If you’re venting it outside, it’s probably a miniscule amount, but vent systems leak and I just try to minimize the amount of poison in my airspace.

Lots of people are pretty cavalier about this stuff. It’s worth keeping in mind that cutting and engraving things with a laser is, by definition, going to produce particulates and gasses. Try to be aware of what you’re vaporizing, what it’s made of, and what its thermal decomposition products are. When it comes to something like the adhesive on a piece of masking tape, I just cross my fingers and hope I’m cutting so little of it that it doesn’t matter.


Thankyou for clarifying! I feel a little better now about what to look for.

Can the Gf cut what they sell as vinyl sheets as well? Sorry this may be answered somewhere else but I am new here and surely didn’t read the entire forum yet

Thanks for your help

It can. That’s not the right question, though. The right question is, “SHOULD it?” The answer is no. No vinyl, for all the reasons listed above.

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I went to a craft store and they recommended to use Frisket film. Do you know if that will work out ? Purchases 3inches by 4 yards for like 30$.
It says low tack adhesive film

Thanks for you help

Nope. Not a good choice.
Frisket film is about twenty times more expensive than the paper tape listed above. It also does NOT hold as well as it needs to to mask the material, and that can cause serious problems if it gets blown off and sucked into the exhaust fan. Get some of the paper masking tape. It has medium to high tack, and has to be activated by squeegeeing the masking material down.

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Thanks for the input… So I will try cutting birch without any protection, then I will try with the masking tape I bought at home depot (standard 2inches masking tape) … then see if the transfer tape is needed…

Does that work as a plan ?

Yep! :slightly_smiling_face:

I often cut Baltic Birch without masking and then run a few passes of 320grit over it with an orbital sander to clean it up.

But the 2 inch blue tape isn’t a great alternative to real masking. You have to be very careful lining up the edges of the tape - overlaps will show in the engrave of cuts as the power hitting the material will be less in the overlaps so you get shallower engraves under the tape overlaps. Also, if you leave any gaps, you’ll get more power as it’s not being absorbed by the tape and you’ll get deeper and darker engraves. Blue tape is also much more expensive than proper masking.

I am new to the GF Forum and reading some of the forums before my GF arrives this week. Do you cover the whole board you are working to avoid the burn marks? and it has to be a paper transfer correct? Any additional tips would be greatly appreciated

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No, you don’t have to. Some materials like ceramic tiles or slate can’t be burned, although there may be other reasons to mask it like if you are going to add color later on and have problems staying inside the lines. To avoid burn marks just the part being lased needs to be masked. It’s often just as easy, or easier, to mask all of the material. Also, masking everything will keep the un-lased material from picking up any smoke stains.

It has to be laser safe. Paper transfer tape is going to be laser safe. Clear transfer tape is usually not laser safe, but some of it is. If you want to be better safe than sorry, stick with paper backed tape. Also, transfer tape is pressure activated. That means you need to press it down with an old credit card or a squeegee made to press down transfer tape.

I’ve ordered 3M - 201+ 8" x 60yd General Use 201+ Masking Tape - 8 in. (W) x 180 ft. (L) Crepe Masking Tape Roll with Solvent Free Rubber Adhesive
I have my settings for birch without any tape. The only reason I’m taping is I need to paint inside the engraved marks.
How much should I increase the power setting for this?
Any help would be great

Test and see. Nobody can say unless they have the same masking (and you’re the first I’ve seen mention that one.)

Generally, I don’t change cut settings for my non-PG materials whether I have masking on or not.

12 inches wide is better if you can as otherwise there are issues where you need to go over the 8" as overlaps do cut down a bit and any non overlap will cut deeper.
When engraving that I will want to paint over I set the minimum at 6-10 so it cuts through the paper but as it does not cut white there could be a step at the edge of the white or detail lost so I try and have the working part of the image beyond white.

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Hi Jim, welcome to the family.


has anybody experienced any “Brown-ish” residue when using regular paper/masking tape? Seems like it’s glue but it happens randomly and in different spots. Sometimes it comes out clean, sometimes it doesnt. You can even see it prior to removing the tape from the engraved piece

That sounds like those spots weren’t firmly adhered. The residue from cutting many woods is often kinda sticky.

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Hello, im in Greece and found it difficult to find paper transfer rolls to mask. I can find oracal but not the paper one. Does anyone k ow the code for the paper one from oracal or which one is safe from the clear ones??

You might try searching the forum for “eu masking”, I found this thread, if you haven’t seen it.

There may be others, try that search if you haven’t. .

Yes, thank you, I have seen that but the thread only give one in Netherlands that I still wait for a reply. And the product they have I cannot find it on amazon.

Στις Δευ, 8 Μαρ 2021, 2:13 μ.μ. ο χρήστης evansd2 via Glowforge Owners Forum <> έγραψε: